Journal directory listing - Volume 53 (2008) - Humanities & Social Sciences【53(2)】July

The Electra Complex in Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton’s Poems Author: Shu-hua Chung(Applied Foreign Languages, Tung-Fang Institute of Technology)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 53, No.2
Date:July 2008


This paper aims to explore the theme of the Electra complex in the poems by two contemporaneous American female poets, Sylvia Plath (1932-63) and Anne Sexton (1928-74). The theme of the Electra complex is dealt with by these two poets through their own unique treatments: Plath represents the theme through surrealist expression, namely, an emphasis on the expression of the imagination as realized in dreams and presented ostensibly without conscious control. Sexton shows the theme through sexual imagery and parallelism. These two poets demonstrate the same theme in diverge ways, but they share an affinity: Escaping from the development of their Electra complex, they reconstruct themselves by way of taking a feminist stance against patriarchy. When their Electra complex disappears, their self-consciousness increases; consequently, they yearn for the independence to flee from their fathers. In this paper, I propose to use the theory of the Electra complex as presented in Sigmund Freud’s Sexuality and the Psychology of Love as a critical tool to analyze the uniqueness and similarities within their poems. The poems that will be discussed include Sylvia Plath’s “Full Fathom Five,” “Electra on Azalea Path,” “The Beekeeper’s Daughter,” “The Colossus,” and “Wintering;” Anne Sexton’s “The Moss of His Skin,” “All My Pretty Ones,” “And One for My Dame,” “The Papa and Mama Dance,” and “Briar Rose.” In my paper, I attempt to examine their description of their fathers and their ambivalent feelings towards their fathers. I argue that these two poets, through their creations, reconstruct the fact (the memory) of their traumatic past, fathers’ images and themselves in particular.

Keywords:Electra complex, Oedipus complex, trauma

《Full Text》

APA FormatChung, S.-H. (2008). The Electra Complex in Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton’s Poems. Journal of National Taiwan Normal University: Humanities & Social Science, 53(2), 117-129. doi:10.6210/JNTNULL.2008.53(2).06